Miso nikomi udon 味噌煮込みうどん

Miso Nikomi Udon photo by Namiko Chen

Miso nikomi udon is a hearty and comforting noodle soup where chicken, fish cake and udon noodles are simmered in a miso-flavored dashi broth. When it’s cold outside, this noodle soup will warm you inside out.

Most udon noodle soups are served in clear dashi broth seasoned with soy sauce. However, in the Nagoya region, which is known for Hatcho miso, you can find delicious udon noodle soup flavored with miso, called miso nikomi udon (味噌煮込みうどん). It’s deeply savory and topped with an assortment of ingredients. Hungry? Let’s reach for the tub of miso and whatever ingredients you have in the refrigerator and make this tonight!

What is Miso Nikomi Udon?
A popular “regional” food in Nagoya, miso nikomi udon is also widely enjoyed across the country, using different types of local miso.

The noodle soup is usually served in individual donabe (Japanese earthenware pot). When the food arrives at the table, the soup is boiling, with lots of bubbling going on, and so much steam coming off from the pot.

Inside the steamy pot, you have chewy udon noodles, chicken, egg, fish cake (kamaboko), shiitake mushrooms, long green onions (negi) and deep-fried tofu (aburaage) in a savory miso-based broth. The broth is made with dashi, usually konbu dashi, katsuo dashi or awase dashi (the combination of the two). With the chicken being cooked inside the broth, you get some light umami-packed dashi and chicken flavor.

5 Ingredients for Miso Nikomi Udon & Substitutes
1. Udon noodles

The original version uses Nama Udon (生うどん), which means freshly made udon. Typically, udon noodles are made from three ingredients: flour, water and salt. However, the udon noodles for miso nikomi udon are made of only flour and water. This reduces the salt content as miso gets salty after long-simmering.

I have a recipe for homemade udon noodles (https://www.justonecookbook.com/udon-noodles) and if you have time, you should definitely make the homemade noodles first, and then make this miso nikomi udon. That would be a fantastic meal!

But that’s more like a weekend project. In this recipe, I use frozen precooked udon noodles from the Japanese grocery store so all you need to do is to run it through hot water to separate it. I love using Sanuki-type udon for this recipe as it has a much chewier and bouncy texture. Some other udon noodles can be a bit more floury and doughy and break easily.

2. Dashi (Japanese broth)

If you use konbu dashi, this soup base is completely vegetarian and vegan-friendly!

You have an option of using katsuo dashi or awase dashi (konbu and katsuo), but it’s up to you. In this recipe, I have made dashi using dashi packets. You can find them on Amazon (this is my favorite brand; http://ow.ly/gJC150HhScx!) or your local Japanese grocery stores (I get mine from Nijiya).

3. Your choice of protein

Typically, chicken and egg are used for this recipe, but you can omit them and make it vegetarian/vegan-friendly by adding lots of veggies, mushrooms and tofu!

4. Other ingredients you can use

Living outside of Japan, ingredients can be hard to find. Long green onions can be replaced with the white parts of leeks and more green onions/scallions. If kamaboko, a Japanese fish cake, is difficult to find, then try Chinese/Korean fish cakes from Asian grocery stores.

If shiitake mushrooms are hard to find, use other mushrooms that are available locally. To summarize, use ingredients you have on hand that you think will be delicious in the miso flavored broth.

5. Miso varieties

In the Nagoya region, mame miso (豆味噌), or 100 percent soybean miso, like hatcho miso (八丁味噌) is used for miso nikomi udon. Mame miso is perfect for all types of simmering dishes because it doesn’t lose much flavor and taste compared to barley miso (麦味噌) or rice miso (米味噌).

I used Hikari Miso® Organic Miso – Red Miso for my miso nikomi udon, but Hikari Miso offers Hatcho Miso and we tried it for this recipe as well. Mr. JOC and I love it, but our kids don’t like the stronger taste of Hatcho Miso, so they recommended us to use Red Miso instead.

Hikari Miso’s miso are all made of 100 percent USDA Certified Organic rice and soybeans and is additive-free. It has a dark brown color original to Shinshu-style miso. A high volume of rice koji produces its mild taste and smooth texture.

If you’re interested in trying this miso out, you can purchase Hikari Miso® organic miso from most of the Japanese/Asian grocery stores or on Amazon. Hikari Miso® is my favorite brand of miso paste and I’ve been using it for over a decade.

There is also a variety of miso, each with a different flavor you can use for various purposes. When you make miso nikomi udon, you can choose any type of miso you like. Each miso has its own unique flavors that you can experiment with and enjoy.

Do I need to Use a Special Japanese Pot (Donabe)?

No, you don’t have to, but if you own a donabe, this is a good excuse to take it out and make this miso nikomi udon. If you haven’t used it for a while, make sure to properly season it before you start using it. Here’s my tutorial on how to season your donabe (https://www.justonecookbook.com/how-to-season-your-donabe).

If you don’t own one, then just use a big pot that can fit three cups (720 ml) of water, udon noodles, and some ingredients for serving two people. You can use a bigger pot to double the recipe or use half a portion for one serving.

Versatile Miso Udon Noodle Soup
Miso nikomi udon is a very versatile noodle soup, where you can throw in any vegetables or proteins you have in the refrigerator. Here in this recipe, I used what is considered “typical” ingredients for miso nikomi udon so you know how it is commonly served in Japan, but please be flexible.

To keep it “authentic,” you will still need dashi (it’s an essential ingredient for what makes Japanese food authentic) and miso for this recipe. However, noodles, vegetables, proteins and mushrooms can be replaceable. Have fun making your own Miso Nikomi Udon!

Japanese Ingredient Substitution: If you want to look for substitutes for Japanese condiments and ingredients, visit https://www.justonecookbook.com/ingredient-substitution-for-japanese-cooking.

Miso Nikomi Udon
Miso nikomi udon is a hearty and comforting noodle soup where chicken, fish cake, and udon noodles are simmered in a miso-flavored dashi broth. When it’s cold outside, this noodle soup will warm you inside out.

Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 40 mins
Servings: 2

3 cups dashi (Japanese soup stock; https://www.justonecookbook.com/how-to-make-dashi-jiru)
1/2 package shimeji mushrooms (1.8 oz, 50 g)
4 shiitake mushrooms (2.3 oz, 65 g)
1/3 kamaboko (fish cake)
1 negi (long green onion) (4 oz, 113 g; or use 2 green onions)
1 piece aburaage (deep-fried tofu pouch) (today I used two small aburaage)
2 servings udon noodles (6.3 oz/180 g dry udon noodles; 1.1 lb/500 g frozen/boiled udon noodles)
1 chicken thigh (7 oz, 200 g)
2 large eggs (50 g each w/o shell)
Shichimi togarashi (Japanese seven spice) (for sprinkling)

4 Tbsp miso (I used Hikari Miso® Organi

To read the full recipe, visit https://www.justonecookbook.com/miso-nikomi-udon/.

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